Day trips are great. Day trips are easy. I don’t get why everybody doesn’t take more day trips. We get it, getting away can be a hassle and spending half your time traveling makes it not even worth it.
A great day trip you can take in Nebraska is to head to Otoe County and get your hands on some delightful wines. Besides wine, Otoe County is also just a short drive away with some good old fashion Americana.
If you are coming from Omaha or Lincoln, it really is just a short jaunt. Which is where we begin our journey. From Omaha you can take the simple path along I-29, but why do that? Hop on a highway, pass some friendly bikers and see something that high traffic interstates can’t give you, the authentic side to Nebraska. As you drive down slowly sloping hills and pass by farmland and acreages, you get to experience a true side of Nebraska. The drive is worth it alone, but the end goal of wine is also a great reward at the end.
Travel isn’t always without it’s mishaps. With a stretch of torn up highway and a confused GPS we had hit a bump in the road. But, the great thing about bumps in the road is the journey around them. Our confused little silver Chevy was pulled off to the side of a gravel road, clearly out of place, when a kind man in a pick-up pulled right on up, more than willing to help. When we explain where we were trying to go we saw him ponder for a second half heartily suggest an alternate route, then he half jokingly suggested that there would be no one working on the torn up highway, so . . . might as well hop on it real quick. That’s what you get in Otoe County, even when someone urges you to break the law, it feels like a kind helpful suggestion.
After a short deliberation, we decided we would rather navigate the country roads than get stuck on a torn up highway. Without this delightful detour the drive to Nebraska City is around 45 minutes to an hour from both Omaha and Lincoln.
Pulling into Kimmel Orchard you get a sense of down home country. You could really spend a good chunk of your day just at Kimmel. They have trails, an outdoor picnic area, and depending on the what’s in season you can pick your own fruit. In their store it seems like they have jar’ed and butterized every single thing they could get their hands on. From cherry butter to salsas of all kinds, they have it all and they grow it all on the property. So, if you are looking for fresh local goodness, this place is a must.
In the back corner is a delightful oval shaped bar and a chalk board gleefully displaying wine tasting for $5 dollars. Four different wines of your choice, a delightful conversation, and you get to keep the glass. Now I’m not a bargain shopper, but I believe this is what they called a good deal.
All of Kimmel’s wines are made from grapes grown on their property. The staff was knowledgeable and more than helpful.
The thing about going to places like Kimmel is that they are also a wealth of knowledge about the whole community. The staff not only told us all about the wines and Kimmel itself, but also directed us to a local place for Lunch.
Chris’s Cuisine boasts some awesome chicken salad, homemade bakery items and straight from your grandma’s kitchen feel. The menu is simple and written on a white board. Mismatched tables give you a vibe that makes you feel like you’re visiting family. And that chicken salad that everyone talks about is totally worth the hype.
On the way back we stopped by Union orchard, which also has a selection of wines to taste. These wines are from all across Nebraska. Union gives you a chance to experience different fruit wines and see what the rest of the state has to offer, and it’s only a short drive from Kimmel. They also have a wide selection of products grown from their land. The drive from Kimmel is scenic passing by acreages, ponds, and overlooks of the Missouri River.
So, what’s a 45-minute drive when you get to experience simple pleasures and get away from the norm for a while?
Some honorary mentions are the Slattery Vintage Estates which is outside of Otoe County, but right on the way if you are driving from Lincoln. Glacial Till Winery is also in Otoe and is open for tours and tastings every Friday and Saturday.
So, grab your man, your girls, or the family (if they are old enough) and head down to Otoe County from some fun, wine, and relaxation.